Shaolin Vs Manchu (1984)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2009-02-18
The version of "Shaolin vs Manchu" discussed here begins with what seems to be a trailer showing various forms of martial arts accompanied by a voice over in English that describes Shaolin kung fu and ends with a portentous "Coming to this theater soon". After some credit cards the scene repeats the same footage while the voice over switches to recounting the coming of the Manchu dictatorship and the resistance that rose from the Shaolin temple.

There is nothing we haven’t seen before—some good action scenes punctuated by just enough poor writing, acting and directing to get from one fight to the next. The set piece scenes—the evil Manchu usurpers plotting, the humble Shaolin monks praying and the devious traitors to Shaolin skulking--could have been lifted whole from any of fifty movies. The fights, though, were worth watching. They were realistic and brutal with quick and exact punches and kicks and deadly looking pole fighting. The life of a Taiwanese stunt man or secondary actor in the 1980s was not an easy one but everyone looked as fit and tough as one could want.

The Manchus are effete, treacherous and corrupt. On the third attempt to destroy the temple their dissolute leader (always attended by at least two female servants) decides that his men are unable to handle even the depleted forces of the monks and hires eight black robed and hooded assassins to finish the job. Since the good guys are down to only five effective fighters—Rocky and Numbers One through Four, including the two that abandoned the cause but have returned—the odds are even with everyone killing everyone else until only Rocky and his main rival, a Manchu operative who infiltrated Shaolin.

Good fights in a mediocre movie, not the worst I have seen.
Reviewer Score: 3